• The risk-on sentiment continued to grow as stock prices rose for a third week. At the same time, we have seen a sharp shift toward more cyclical and value styles. This trend could have more room to run.

• We expect the Fed will cut interest rates this week, but then may adopt a wait-and-see approach, especially as recession risks appear to be fading slightly.

Global stock markets enjoyed a third week of gains, as global monetary policy continued to ease and as trade tensions lessened (or at least did not get worse).1 The European Central Bank ramped up its easing policies and the Federal Reserve looks set to cut rates this week, which helped the overall risk-on sentiment. In the U.S., the S&P 500 Index rose 1.0%, with small caps, value styles and cyclical areas enjoying the strongest gains.1 Treasuries came under pressure again and have given back most of the August gains.1

Weekly Top Themes

1. Inflation is rising slightly, complicating the Fed’s easing stance. The core Consumer Price Index rose 0.3% in August for an annualized increase of 3.4%.2 The index has now experienced its strongest three-month advance since September 2008.2 Inflation data shouldn’t affect the Fed’s actions this week, but do cast some doubt as to the future direction of interest rate policy.

2. U.S./China trade negotiations are continuing, but we haven’t seen changes in the fundamental disagreements. The parties will likely separate trade issues from national security issues during the October negotiations, which should help talks progress. Ongoing dialogue is a good thing, but we still see little chance of a comprehensive deal. It is possible we could see gradual progress such as an agreement by China to purchase U.S. agricultural goods in exchange for additional delays in tariffs.

3. The regulatory backdrop could change notably after the 2020 elections. By any measure, the regulatory backdrop under the Trump administration has been much more lax, and thus business friendly, than it was over the previous eight years. Should Democrats retake the White House, that positioning will likely change.

4. There has been a clear shift toward risk-on positioning over the past few weeks. We would cite several causes, including some better economic data, an easing of trade tensions, de-escalation in Hong Kong, receding risks of a hard Brexit and an easier monetary policy backdrop.

5. This shift has also caused a change in equity market leadership. We have seen a massive rotation away from momentum, growth styles, defensive stocks and higher quality to value, smaller caps and cyclical areas of the market. It is too early to say whether this shift is a blip or the start of a prolonged leadership change. If economic sentiment continues to improve, and especially if we see a recovery in manufacturing data, we would be more inclined to believe it is the latter.

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